Thanks to Delaware 4-H after-school programming at community centers and schools throughout the state, low-income children have a safe place to congregate after school.
Last month, we had the chance to visit kids participating in the 4-H program at McLane Gardens in Smyrna. School-aged children who live in McLane Gardens congregate in the neighborhood’s community center Monday through Thursday. The afternoon includes structured time for homework help, physical fitness, crafts, reading and more.
In addition to homework help and fun activities, kids also receive a free meal thanks to the Child and Adult Care Food Program, a national program operated by the United States Department of Agriculture. For some students who receive after-school meals through the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the meal received after school is the last nutritious meal received before returning to school the next day. Monday through Friday, a dedicated team of Food Bank of Delaware volunteers assembles and packs hundreds of meals each day for distribution to after-school sites like 4-H.
Children arrive to this 4-H program between 3:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., and homework help begins at 4:00 p.m., followed by a snack and activity.
McLane Garden’s 4-H leaders, Miss Mo and Miss Amber, work with the students individually and in groups to help them with reading comprehension, writing and more.
One little girl read a book, while another practiced writing letters.
You can tell that the kids are close and enjoy each other’s company. When 4:30 rolled around one little guy was responsible for passing out the snacks. On the menu for the day: tuna fish cups, pita bread, carrots with ranch dipping sauce, milk and pears. Once he distributed all of the items, he chowed down! He chanted, “I love tuna fish, I love tuna fish!” He ate it all!
To stress the importance of food recovery, any uneaten food is placed in a bucket. In the past, smoothies have been made with unused milk and fruit.
Sequoia Rent is the 4-H Afterschool Director for Kent County and said that the kids look forward to their after school meals from the Food Bank.
Sequoia’s team works hard planning activities for the kids. After snack, Miss Mo led a yoga demonstration. Together, they practiced downward facing dog, tree poses and more. While practicing the moves, Miss Mo talked about the importance of breathing through the postures. To close out the day, the kids participated in a fun craft!